This sect was called the Church of Love or Good People, it had many currents, but one gnostic meaning: God who created the material world is just an evil Archon, and the Supreme Absolute just sent his son Logos – to correct this, reject the material and completely surrender to spiritual life.
A sect, a heresy, but in fact a full-fledged religion with its bishops and cathedrals, gained popularity in amazing speeds. Its spread was the reason that the Pope ordered the creation of the Inquisition to combat heresy. The creation of the holy tribunal was entrusted to Dominic Guzman, the closest adviser to the Pope (now canonized), since then only Dominican monks have been part of the Holy Inquisition. By the way, today there are only 5,000 of them left and another 3,000 nuns.
The first to appear were the Cathars – from the ancient Greek “clean or pure”. These pale, emaciated people usually worked as weavers, and preached the rejection of worldly goods, opposed the wealth of the church and the patriarchs. They taught that the worldly pulls a person to the Devil, and the soul to God. They preached that the souls of people are fallen angels, imprisoned by Satan in a material shell.
The souls of people are in the captivity of matter, in the captivity of Satanael. In the 12th-13th centuries, they settled in southern France, Spain and the southern regions of Germany. It is believed that their religion came from somewhere in the East. Religion was quickly adopted by both the middle feudal lords and the Count of Toulouse himself – the owner of the richest and most economic region, able to compete on equal terms with the king of France
Bogomils appeared in the Balkans at that time – named after the preacher Bogomil. His numerous followers were a powerful force to be reckoned with in the Bulgarian kingdom. According to their teaching, Archon Satanail ruled the world – it was he who sent floods, killed the firstborn, turned people into pillars and destroyed the Tower of Babel. And only Jesus Christ was able to “de-deify” him and overthrow him into hell. The main message of the doctrine is that the entire material world was created by Satan. The Bogomils were against icons, against churches, against the Old Testament.
Then in Byzantium, among the very bottom of society: peasants, poor townspeople and vagabonds, Paulicians were born – that’s what their enemies called them, but they called themselves simply Christians. They also said that our world was created not by God, but by the evil Demiurge – and only the spiritual sphere is related to God. The body is from Satan, but the soul is from God.
Paulicians condemned the worship of the cross – like the worship of a piece of wood. For them, the cross was the instrument of execution of the Savior. They did not honor Virgin Mary either – considering her simply a vessel for the coming of the Savior. They demanded church ceremonies to be canceled and simplified – becoming like Jesus Christ and the first Christians. They especially hated the luxury and wealth of the church and priests – considering this an apostasy.
An interesting story happened to the Paulicians when the Byzantine Emperor sent one of his generals to punish the nascent sect. The founder of the Paulicians, the Armenian Constantine, was executed, but the simplicity and sincerity of the Paulicians impressed the general so much that he soon accepted their faith, changed his name, and even led their movement.
It is curious that those Paulicians who fled from the inquisitors of the emperor and tried to establish their own settlement were helped by allocating their cities for living even the Bedouin Saracens, who were hostile to the Byzantine Empire.
At some point, the state of the fleeing Paulicians became so powerful that they, together with the Muslims, raided Byzantium, plundering its cities. It all ended in massacre – the state of the Paulicians was destroyed and up to 400,000 of its supporters were killed. Today, there are about 10,000 of them.
But new Christian movements appeared: Albigensians, Waldensians, Manichaeans, Messalians, Euchites, Fundants, Baboons and Pataranes; And all of them gradually populating Europe and professed a similar Gnostic teaching: The material world was created by the evil Demiurge – who appears in the Old Testament under the name of Yahweh, in order to be saved – you need to reject material dirt.
All of them did not recognize the luxury of the church, patriarchs, sacraments and ceremonies. Considered Gnostic Christianity true and the Catholic Church – a distortion of the teachings of Christ. They directly said that Catholics worship Satan.
All these huge movements have been called heresy. They frightened Pope Innocent III and his clerics enough for the Holy Inquisition to be created just to fight them. And against the Cathars, the Pope even carried out a cruel crusade, where literally everyone was massacred and, according to estimates in the Occitania region, up to a million people died in the south of France. Both fire and sword proved to be quite productive: the Catholic and orthodox currents won, and most people now have never heard of the gnostic version of Christianity.
Here is one of the versions adopted by the Bogomils:
This is official data and it is quite enough to be surprised. Unofficially, we can add that probably all these numerous Gnostic sects are fragments of the Bogomil sect that was lost, or rather rewritten.
Nowadays, we can notice that Buddhists preach such asceticism and detachment from the material world – most likely these are parts of that True Christian Teaching that was erased and distorted in Europe. Once, this ancient Christianity spread from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas.
Gnostic teachings were very influential, but are now completely obscured by the official Christian religion and are known only to specialists. They covered huge areas. For example, the Manichean religion spread from Iran to China, penetrated into Western Europe – but it was quickly suppressed there, and in the North it spread to Southern Siberia.
The Gnostic opinion is curious that God Yaldabaoth (Yahweh) brings down floods on people, because he is afraid that people will become too powerful, and he is not an absolute God according to the ideas of the Gnostics, but only a limited spirit.
Gnosticism attempts to explain the whole picture of the world and why the gods in the New and Old Testaments are so different. If the Earth and the material world were created by the imperfect archon Yaldabaoth, this perfectly explains all the evil on earth. That is, we are still, at least our material bodies, subject to Satan and his demons.
There is a phrase from the apocryphal Gospel of Philip, found in the Nag-Hamaddi library: